Like jetpacks and flying cars before it, RSS still doesn’t have the market share we were promised.
For those of you who don’t know what RSS is, it stands for Real Simple Syndication.
For those of you who have no frickin’ clue what that means, you just need to understand that every time you update your blog, it updates a document with the new post. People can subscribe to your RSS feed and get an updated version of your blog post in their newsreader.
Unfortunately, that’s still confusing to most people. That’s why I created a blog post and how-to video called How to Subscribe to an RSS Feed. Still, you don’t need a how-to video to subscribe to an email newsletter, a magazine or to turn on your TV. RSS is too complicated and esoteric for the average Internet user.
But one nice thing about RSS is that it is extremely flexible. A few years back, some companies started offering automatic RSS to email conversions. This way, people who weren’t geeky enough to understand RSS could still subscribe to your blog via email.
Even though not everyone gets RSS, everyone gets email newsletters.
However, the functionality of most RSS to Email tools is lacking. In fact, it almost universally sucks.
Here’s a list of what an RSS to Email tool needs to be world class:
- Easily convert RSS > email (duh!)
- Allow the blog owner to create branded templates for the emails sent to subscribers
- Allow the blog owner to determine when the emails will be sent out; weekly, daily, or immediately after each blog post (my preference would be the last, because of the following bullet point)
- Ability to create a unique subject line for each email pulled from the most recent blog post title (this is critical for open rates!!!)
- Ability for subscribers to override the default delivery schedule (some people just want weekly digest)
- Ability to track where the signup took place (this will improve my marketing efforts and ROI)
- Allow the blog owner to send out additional messages to the subscriber base that don’t appear in the blog (special offers, downloads, events, etc.)
- Allow the blog owner to offer an incentive to sign up, like an ebook or free consultation. (This is how we built our email list in Constant Contact. See this post on email bait for more info.)
- Ability to use the same system for an email newsletter as the email feed, and cross-promote
I’m not suggesting this should be a free service. I’d happily pay for it. In fact, in a perfect world, it would all be offered by Constant Contact, who we run our regular email newsletters through as part of my monthly service fees.
Because they don’t (yet, I hope) offer RSS > Email I just dropped $200/yr on AWeber, because they come closest to offering everything on the list above. I’ll be switching this blog’s feed from Feedburner to AWeber in the next few weeks…unless Constant Contact is reading this and wants to make me happy and keep all my business.
What did I leave off? What would you like to see in a world-class RSS to Email tool?